Letter: Mayor calls on reps to complete 2016 work

Published 10:51 am Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dear Sen. Sparks and Rep. Poppe, I am contacting you to request your support for a 2016 special session to complete work left unfinished when the Legislature adjourned sine die in May.

While I appreciate the Governor has the sole authority to call a special session, you and the other legislative leaders have the ability to help craft a compromise as well as encourage the Governor step back from his position that appears to be an all or nothing approach.

It is important to the city of Austin that the Legislature reconvene to pass the omnibus tax, bonding, and transportation bills. These bills were identified as high priorities for both bodies of the Legislature and the governor, and action on them should not wait until 2017. I’m concerned about what is incredible dysfunction when the state has the luxury of a budget surplus.

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Local Government Aid continues to be our life blood that provides some equity across the state and should have seen larger increases but made improvement on the state and local partnership by adding $20 million in increased funds. Austin would be a much different community without this critical program.

We have shared extensively with you the importance of funding for our wastewater treatment facilities as the city has a looming permit that will be squared with the recently adopted regulations that the legislature did not curtail. It is appropriate the state provide these resources as our community will otherwise have to face these expenses alone for the environmental benefits.

Our common constituents deserve a transportation system that works. I respectfully ask you to

keep the interests of all Minnesotans in mind by working to pass a comprehensive, sustainable

transportation funding bill as part of a special session. As you know Mower County is looking at a local option sales tax and have rightly pointed to the state’s lack of funding as a key reason they are looking to adopt such a proposal. It would be a poor alternative for Mower County to adopt this sales tax primarily because the state has failed. I’m afraid this will be the likely outcome.

I urge you to work with the leaders of your caucus to reach an agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton so that a special session can be called to deal with these important issues.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or would like to discuss any of the local issues I have identified.

Tom Stiehm,

Austin mayor